Pharos-Tribune

State News

March 25, 2013

Indiana's tuition law gets one more look

Legislators reconsider status of immigrant students here illegally

INDIANAPOLIS —  Two years ago, Indiana lawmakers bent on cracking down on illegal immigration passed a law that banned in-state college tuition for children of undocumented workers, and resulted in hundreds of students dropping out when they couldn’t afford the much higher out-of-state rates.

Now there is an effort to roll back that law. It’s led by some conservative Republican legislators who see the ban as both unfair to children brought here illegally by their parents and contrary to the state’s effort to produce more college graduates.

“There is not a downside to educating every student, whether they’re undocumented or not,” said state Rep. Becky Kubacki of Syracuse, the first Hispanic Republican elected to the Indiana General Assembly.

In February, the Republican-controlled state Senate passed legislation, Senate Bill 207, that would allow students who were enrolled in college when the 2011 law took effect to be eligible again for in-state tuition.

Kubacki is sponsoring that bill in the House, where some of her Republican colleagues are working to expand it by amending the legislation to cover more children of undocumented workers who are residents of Indiana. Details of the amendment have yet to be made public, but it’s expected to spark a vigorous debate.

“I never, ever dreamed there would be discussion in the House of expansion (of the bill),” said state Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, who authored Senate Bill 207. “But maybe enough legislators have talked to these kids and heard their plight and struggle.”

Leising kept the parameters of her bill narrow — benefiting only students already enrolled in college when the in-state tuition ban took effect in 2011 — believing it was the only way it would pass. Similar legislation was shot down last year after a fierce lobbying blitz by opponents who saw it as a form of “amnesty” for people here illegally.

Among the supporters of Leising’s bill is Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, who voted for the original 2011 law. His change of heart came after hearing from students adversely affected by the 2011 law, including a college student who’d been brought to the U.S. illegally when she was 2 months old.

“These kids are victims,” Yoder said during a hearing on Senate Bill 207. “They‘ve done nothing wrong. They are not at liberty to tell their parents what to do when they cross this border, and I’m not sure how we as a society here in Indiana benefit by trying to limit their possibilities.”

That’s the case Kubacki is hoping to make as well in the House. Kubacki, whose maiden name is Espinoza, is a second-generation American and the daughter of migrant farm workers.

As a freshman legislator, she voted for the 2011 law. Its defenders at the time said it would it send a clear message that Indiana would no longer be a “sanctuary” for undocumented workers who were in the U.S. illegally because of the federal government’s failure to act on illegal immigration.

But she later came to regret that vote, especially after hearing from students who dropped out of college because they couldn’t afford the non-resident tuition; it’s $31,000 a year at Indiana University compared to $10,000 for in-state students.

“We changed the rules on these kids, which is just not the fair thing to do when they were already in college and headed on a career path,” Kubacki said.

“At the time when I supported the bill, I was looking at things in a very black-and-white fashion,” she added. “But when you stand back and analyze things, things aren’t black and white. There is a lot of gray.”

Kubacki and Leising argue that the state of Indiana already educates thousands of children of undocumented workers in the state’s K-12 schools, which are barred by federal law from asking students to prove their citizenship status. And they say Indiana, which ranks in the bottom 10 states for residents with college degrees, shouldn’t be cutting off access to college for those who want it. “Our public K-12 system is accepting 100 percent of these students,” Leising said. “But what we’re basically doing is saying to them: ‘When you graduate from high school, your education stops, unless your parents have become wealthy since they moved here.’”

Opponents of Senate Bill 207 remain steadfast. Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, who argued for the 2011 bill that barred in-state tuition for students who couldn’t document they were here legally, argued against Leising’s bill. He said it may violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution and would allow foreign students who come to study in the U.S. legally to claim a right to in-state tuition.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Deputy: No vehicle involved in fatal Cicero bike crash CICERO (AP) — Investigators say a 20-year-old bicyclist who was killed in a crash in a central Indiana town wasn't struck by a vehicle. Nicholas Camp of Cicero was pronounced dead at an Indianapolis hospital after he was injured in the crash in Cicer

    July 25, 2014

  • Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster SANTA CLAUS (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana says it's building a new roller coaster that will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop among four inversions. Plans for the Thunderbird were ann

    July 25, 2014

  • Man dies after being hit by sheriff's prisoner van INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police say a man has died after he was hit by a sheriff's department prisoner transport van on an Indianapolis street. City police spokesman Officer Christopher Wilburn says witnesses told investigators that the man was lying on t

    July 25, 2014

  • Murder, rape charges filed in SW Indiana attack BLOOMFIELD (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a 35-year-old man with fatally shooting a man outside his rural southwestern Indiana home and then raping a woman inside the home. Greene County prosecutors filed murder, rape and other charges Thursday agai

    July 25, 2014

  • Teen Pilot-Crash [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Family: Indiana teen pilot who crashed in ocean knew risks PLAINFIELD (AP) — Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot from Indiana also believed dreams aren't achieved without taking chances. "Why does any explorer undertake the nec

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indy. Man who avoided prison time for rape resentenced INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis man who was placed on home detention after being convicted of drugging and raping his then-wife is going to prison for violating his probation. The ex-wife of 52-year-old David Wise said she felt "sucker punched" b

    July 24, 2014

  • Judge rules Indiana hog farms protected by law WINCHESTER (AP) — A judge has ruled state law protects the operator of large hog farms from lawsuits filed by residents of an eastern Indiana county. The lawsuits against North Carolina-based Maxwell Farms accused it of allowing hog waste to accumula

    July 24, 2014

  • Ex-Indy officer appeals convictions in fatal crash INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former Indianapolis police officer is appealing his convictions for killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others while driving drunk in his police cruiser. A brief filed by public defenders Wednesday claims the jud

    July 24, 2014

  • Ex-Indiana officer pleads guilty in $150K theft FRANKFORT (AP) — A former central Indiana police officer has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole nearly $150,000 from a company for which he transported cash. Former Frankfort police Lt. Randy Emery avoided jail time as a judge sentenced him to t

    July 24, 2014

  • Court rules prison agency mistreated former Pendleton counselor INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Indiana's prison agency mistreated a female employee when it shrugged off her complaints about workers having sex on her desk and later fired her for having an affair with an official. The ap

    July 23, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.